By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Eddie Vedder stood in the same area that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have hooked up for countless plays. But as the front man for Pearl Jam spoke to the sold out crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena, he wasn’t offering the fans a mea culpa or an apology. Just an explanation.
In the weeks leading up to Pearl Jam’s performance in Oklahoma, Vedder had made some disparaging remarks about the city and the Thunder. In fact, he has been talking about them since the franchise left his hometown of Seattle.
But Saturday, even as thousands of fans screamed for Vedder and his band, he didn’t back down from his statements. Halfway through the three hour show, he asked them to see it from his point of view.
“A long time ago, in a city very far away, there was a great team,” Vedder said over the cascade of boos. “It was your team. See, it has nothing to do with Oklahoma, Oklahoma City or Tulsa or the people or any of the locals in this building. It would simply be like if you had an ex-girlfriend from an all-time relationship, well you wouldn’t like her new husband. If it was Fresno, I’d be (upset) with Fresno.”
With the lead guitarist wearing an old Durant Seattle Supersonics jersey, the band then play "Satan's Bed."
“We’ve got some therapy,” Vedder said. “We’ve dealt with our anger issues.”
Even before Vedder’s speech, the fans who piled into the arena had already forgiven him or just didn’t care about the Thunder controversy. They were there to see Pearl Jam (aka Mookie Blaylock) rock and that’s exactly what they saw.
It had been a decade since Pearl Jam last performed in Oklahoma City and the fans seemed to try and show the band, they should come around more often. From the minute Vedder, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron took the stage, everyone in the Chesapeake were on the their feet, hugging each other and fist punching the air to each song.
“The last time we played here was 10 years ago,” Vedder said. “And last time we played before that was 10 years. I think we should get in as many songs tonight because we might not see you in 10 years.”
They started out their set with “Wash,” “Sometimes,” “Lighting Bolt,” “Mind Your Manners,” “MFC,” “In the Hiding,” “Even Flow” and “Jeremy.”
Pearl Jam’s set consisted of 30 songs from their catalog that spans 23 years. Those in attendance seemed to know every word and sang along.
When the band did take a break and left the stage, the crowd was still so into the show, they cheered the entire 8 minutes they were off stage.
When Pearl Jam returned, Vedder gave a fan the mic and let her ask her boyfriend to marry her. Pearl then dedicated "Just Breathe" to them.
After two encore's Pearl Jam closed out the night with “Alive,” “Baba O'Riley” and Yellow Ledbetter.” And as they had several times, promised not to wait so long to come back again.